26 July 2008

Square People and Not So Square Meals

I love my child's daycare. Love. I feel enormously lucky that we found it, that she got a spot there, that it's close to the house, that they take really good care of her, that their philosophy is that play is the essential "work" of the pre-schooler.

But sometimes what I love best of all is that they have a full time cook. I'm a little terrified about kindergarten in September, because I'm going to have to start packing a lunch for her. Yikes. We barely get out of the house on time as it is; how will I get lunch organized?

The daycare cook is unbelievable. She's a moody, funny, feisty woman who trained as a chef, at a real cooking school (she's got the framed diploma hanging outside the kitchen). And she spends her days feeding real food to toddlers and pre-schoolers. It's completely obvious that she loves what she does, because, lord knows, they are not an easy audience.

One day last week, when I was picking Miss M. up, I asked "what'd they have for lunch today?" "Pasta with pesto." "What? No way." "Yeah, and they all had like two or three helpings." Not only does she get them to eat green food, they like it.

The next day, I stopped in the kitchen in the morning to commend the cook. There was some of the pasta left over, and without any protest from me, she scooped some into a bowl for me to take home for lunch. While we were chatting, I heard a humming mechanical noise: ice cream. The woman was making homemade ice cream for the kids. "Because it doesn't have all that stuff in it."

From time to time, Miss M. tells us that she doesn't want to go to kindergarten. I think she knows a good thing when she sees it, because there's not going to be homemade ice cream in elementary school.


[The picture has nothing to do with anything. It's just that she's been obsessively drawing square people, day in and day out, always with the square hair, and I wanted to share one (three) of them.]

33 comments:

alejna said...

I want to eat lunch at that daycare. Wow. That's really amazing.

And I love the square people. They have a slight curve to them that lends an air of grace.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

My kids loved pasta with pesto from the get-go--it's still one of their favorites.

Love the square hair people!

susie said...

Lucky you! And lucky Miss M. A really good daycare is so hard to find.

And homemade ice cream! Yum!

zellmer said...

That is art.

Sober Briquette said...

I'm pretty jealous about that cook. I was giving some serious thought to the fact that I have dumbed-down our diet to the lowest common denominator: a three year-old boy. No wonder I'm tired and cranky most of the time.

C'mon, it's only the hair that is square. Did she get ahold of a photo album from the 80's? In any case, those skirts are fabulous.

Julia said...

I loved that our pre-school fed Monkey. Their cook is an old Old Country woman, so there was plenty of traditional food, but they also had some things like (very carefully selected not to have crap in them) local crowd-pleasers, like chicken nuggets. Yours sounds a lot more impressive in its from-scratchiness.

And I so hear you on school lunches. My solution has been to make JD the man in charge of going to school, including the lunch part. Of course that also means she usually gets more sweet stuff in the lunch than I am strictly happy with, but we pick our battles, I think.

slouching mom said...

square people! priceless!

Angeline said...

Wow! the way you describe the daycare cook really reminds me of the auntie who used to cook in the child care which I worked in in the past...Yummilicious!

Irish Goddess said...

Finding a day care you love is such a crucial part of parenthood. I lucked out twice, once in Rhode Island and once in MI. The MI daycare cared for and loved both of my children from the time the oldest was 18 months all the way until the youngest was 6. They taught my children to count and spell and share and take turns and play, play, play. They did the majority of the work with potty training, too. We still go back to visit on occasion.

Anjali said...

That sounds phenomenal. Does she ship food? School cafeteria food is so disgusting. I'm packing lunch for 2 this year, and dreading it!

RuthWells said...

The school lunch thing is tricky. Our tactic is to allow the boys to each buy lunch once per week, and to pack lunches the other 4 days. They choose which days they'll buy lunch ahead of time on the monthly menu, and they're only allowed to get pizza every other week. ; ) Healhty packed lunches are easier than they sound, but you'll need lots of small plastic containters to pull it off. We pack the lunches the night before to make mornings easier.

niobe said...

mmm......pesto. (I'm saying nothing about the ice cream because, as you know, I've had only bad luck in my own attempts to make it)

Kyddryn said...

Cool. Much better than the cook at the daycare where I did time...er...was employed - she used pre-packaged foods and just wanted to hurry up and get it done. She never cared about the actual nutrition or edibility of the food she made...it was just a paycheck to her.

Yeah, I packed in my own lunches or ate out, because I couldn't pronounce most of the ingredients on the packages she opened.

I adore the square people...they're so happy! A lovely way to start the day, cheerful, brightly coloured people and home made ice cream...

Shade and Sweetwater,
K

noble pig said...

OMG when my kids were in preschool they had a cook too...she was THE BEST..so sweet and they had all kinds of fab food for lunch.

My youngest is a super-picky eater and she make stuff less spicy or saucy just for him...I loved that woman...MS. Bertha..I will never forget her.

MotherPie said...

Lucky to have such a good cook!

flutter said...

she sounds like a jewel

Eva said...

Ooooh, awesome. Pesto. Oooh.

jen said...

what a lovely place, one of a kind. their own cook? i love it.

Janet said...

Cute picture! This story reminds me of the cook in charge of meals at my small residence in first year university. He was a trained pastry chef who had burned out in the fancy restaurant circut. The food was so-so, but the desserts he made us? Incredible.

Good luck with the school lunches. They are my albatross.

Lady M said...

Yum, homemade ice cream!

Mayberry said...

Our place has its own cook too, but clearly she's nothing like Mme Pesto over there! (Maybe you can hire her for a side job - 5 lunchboxes/week.)

MadMad said...

Aw man. There is nothing worse than packing kids' lunches. Well, except letting them eat that crap in the cafeteria, hahaha! I think that poor little girl peaked early in the lunch department...

ophelia rising said...

Wow. Is all I can say. I wish I lived near you!

Hmmm...a cook for a preschool. Might not be a bad career choice, actually...

ophelia rising said...

p.s. I LOVE her drawings! Very Matisse-like, in my humble opinion.

painted maypole said...

love the pic. think i could hire that chef to make lunch for me?

ozma said...

Wow, my kid gets the most hideous food at her daycare sometimes.

But they get fresh fruit most days, so I deal.

Yeah, the pre-K no lunch thing is going to be a problem perhaps. I remember going with my brother to kindergarten one day when I was in high school (he was a lot younger than I was) and I remembered being amazed that not a single kid ate a single thing. They all opened their lunchboxes, talked to each other, the bell rang and they threw all the food away.

I LOVE THAT PICTURE!

FreshHell said...

I love the square-haired people!

She She said...

Miss M. has her own chef? That's beyond cool.

I gripe constantly about having to make the kids' lunches. It's the bane of my daily existence.

needleinahaystack said...

I remembered a funny story about our now 14 year old. We were out to dinner with friends and they marveled when our then 4 year old ordered "mussels marinara please!" When it came, my friend said "Honey, do you like it?" and he said, grinning, covered in red sauce, "Yeah, tastes like chicken."

We howled.
Moral of the story is to have them try everything and don't limit them to "kid food". Most of it is awful for them healthwise.

Aliki2006 said...

That daycare cook sounds amazing--absolutely amazing. I wouldn't want to go to k-garten either, and I would be very, very afraid of school lunches.

Kyla said...

That cook sounds amazing!

KayTar doesn't eat. Heh. So I don't have to worry about it for her. I pack 1 bag of Sunchips and 2 jars of stage 2 baby food. And sometimes I send it all for several days (as it never gets eaten). And BubTar was in 1/2 day Kinder, so this will be his first experience with away from home lunches.

Victoria said...

So. Amazing.

I want a cook like that - pasta with pesto and ice cream are two important food groups for me, personally.

womaninawindow said...

That picture is gorgeous. Those colours make me happy. (yes, I'm only 5.)

Packing lunches bites. Welcome to the next phase. What a dream cook. Boy, the stories I could tell about the cook we had when I ran daycare. She was a dream but a very unconventional one. I think I owe her a post, or perhaps, a book.